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Friday, April 15, 2016

Following Up With Bill And Ted

Well, I got their attention. I wanted to do a little thought experiment. I think it's fair enough to say that Catholics and Reformed agree on many things. That which separates them, from the Reformed perspective are Reformed distinctives, and he holds them in contradistinction to the Roman Catholic dogmas precisely because he believes those dogmas are false.

But what if the Catholic Church did not exist? The Catholic believes therefore that revealed truth, at least as regards the New Covenant, would not exist. The Church exists as the redeemed community of the New Covenant in Christ's blood. It's that strong. We don't accept an invisible Church, because it represents a denial of Christ and His saving purpose. An invisible thing cannot be a visible sacred sign of God's work in the world.

If Reformed theology as distinct from Catholic theology didn't exist, then all the points where we agree would be aspects of Catholic theology. And alike for Lutheran theology, and the Anglican communion. Many advocates for these emphasize commonalities, in an attempt to argue that their particular expression is not the radical departure from the ancient faith as Catholic dogma contends. But then that community, with its distinct dogmas, would have no reason to exist.

This is the power of the Church as a motive of credibility: it is a visibly identifiable community tasked with professing a specific deposit of supernatural truth. It is difficult to imagine--given especially Christ's own promises to the Church--that he would allow a fraudulent community in His name to be protected and preserved. And not only that, but that rival communities would arise, defining themselves in opposition to this supposed fraud.

A fundamentally invisible Church is an implicit concession to the failure of Sola Scriptura to produce dogmatic consensus. That invisible conception accounts for the disunity of the visible communities, whose practical function is to maintain orthodoxy as they each define it.




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